Anna Wing's Portfolio Page

Course Intent

This course is a professional development course that would guide teachers toward the benefits of using Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) to improve student writing literacy. The course will first introduce teachers to CSCL, its purposes, and how it can be used, and then will examine how to use several different specific web tools to improve student writing.


Topics to be covered:

  • The current need for preparing students with 21st Century skills, especially collaboration and writing skills.
  • Research that supports CSCL as an effective learning strategy.
  • Basic instruction on Web 2.0 tools that can be used to support collaborative writing, specifically online discussion forums and collaborative wiki pages.
  • How to assess student learning through collaborative online writing projects.

Needs Assessment

Information for this needs assessment was obtained through a survey of eighteen local volunteer teachers in a small, rural district in upstate New York. Here is a copy of the survey that was used: File:CSCL survey.pdf

Instructional Problem: In our rapidly changing world, students need 21st century skills to be college and career ready, including skills for writing, problem solving, collaborating with others, and using new technologies. In order to prepare students with these essential skills, teachers need to be educated on strategies to help students learn them.

Nature of what is to be learned: Teachers will be introduced to the concept of computer-supported collaborative learning and how to use it to effectively support writing instruction. Included in this course will be specific instruction on Web 2.0 tools for collaborative writing, particularly discussion forums and wikis.

When asked in a needs assessment survey "What specific information or activities would you like to see covered in a professional development course on computer-supported collaborative learning and writing literacy?," common answers included:

  • "I would like exposure to new and innovative online tools"
  • "More specific tools, websites, and resources"
  • "Web 2.0 tools that guide students through the writing process and help them edit and revise their work"
  • "Something that can be interactive in teaching and learning"

About the learners: This course is targeted for public school teachers, pre-K-12, specifically at a rural, low-income school where technology access is limited. About 25% of teachers are already familiar with using computer-supported collaborative learning activities, and about 75% are unfamiliar. Though some learners have identified themselves as "confident in my ability to use and implement online tools into my instruction," many also claimed that they "strongly agree" that they would benefit from a professional development course that would guide them through the purposes, techniques, and strategies for using computer-supported collaborative learning in their classrooms. Several survey respondents also expressed they would prefer a professional development that "wouldn't be overwhelming" and would be "engaging, to the point, and needs to provide resources for practical application."

Instructional Context: This professional development course is geared towards teachers in a small, rural school. Because the course is in an online format, it can be completed independently at one's own pace. However, it is expected that teachers will also communicate learning and reflection with each other in a face to face manner.

Goals: By the end of this course, teachers should feel more knowledgeable about CSCL and its instructional benefits, and should be comfortable in the use of several Web 2.0 tools that support collaborative student writing.

Task Analysis

Overall Course Objective:

In this course, participants will learn strategies for using computer supported collaborative learning to improve student writing literacy.


End of Course Goals:

· Participants will be able to define computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL).

· Participants will demonstrate the ability to use web-based tools to support collaborative student writing, such as wikis like TitanPad.

· Participants will be able to analyze and evaluate the benefits of using collaborative activities to increase writing skills.

Prerequisite Skills

Essential Prerequisites:

In order to continue with the course and successfully achieve the above course goals, participants should:

  • be able to navigate the Internet using a web browser (such as Internet Explorer or Firefox)
  • understand the basic concept of collaborative learning
  • have prior experience with K-12 writing instruction
  • be familiar with using the peer review and revision in the writing process

Supportive Prerequisites:

Teacher participants may have an easier experience with this course if they:

  • Are open-minded and positive about using new technologies in their classrooms
  • Are open-minded to the idea of student writing being done as a collaborative process and not strictly an independent activity
  • Interact with other participants while taking the course to give room for face to face discussion and reflection
  • Have had some degree of exposure to Web 2.0 learning tools

Performance Objectives

Unit One: What is Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, and why use it?

By the completion of this unit participants should be able to:

  • identify 21st Century skills and how they impact today's students
  • Define computer-supported collaborative learning

Unit Two: How - and why - should I use CSCL to teach writing?

By the completion of this unit participants should be able to:

  • identify the value of collaboration as part of the writing process
  • analyze the task of writing as a social, not merely independent, process

Unit Three: What are tools that I can use for the practical application of CSCL in my classroom?

By the completion of this unit participants should be able to:

  • identify and use a wiki website for collaborative writing
  • be able to design a learning experience for students that would use CSCL to support collaborative writing
  • evaluate the digital collaborative writing process

Curriculum Map

Click here to see the curriculum map of objectives and activities for this course: File:Curriculum Map for CSCL Mini Course.pdf

Course Link

Writing Instruction using Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning


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